Igal Gofman: Street Photography in Jerusalem


All images by Igal Gofman. Used with permission.

“My name is Igal Gofman. I was born in Russia in 1989 and in 2005 I moved to Israel. I served in the IDF as a helicopter technician in the Air Force and now I am studying politics and media in the college in Jerusalem.” he says in his introductory email to the Phoblographer. “Besides photography, I play blues harmonica.”

As you can tell, Igal lives a pretty awesome life. He first got into photography when he scored a Nikon digital camera at a young ago. For Igal, the most important part was always the picture, and not really the gear.

Perhaps this is why he really just works with minimal rangefinders.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.


Igal: In fact, it started almost by accident. In my school, I won the first prize at the lottery – a little Nikon camera (4 megapixels). Since then, I’ve had it and I had to use it, and I didn’t give too much importance to the camera itself. I just was documenting some events and experiences of my life, they have always been more important to me.

Phoblographer: What made you want to get into street photography?


Igal: The fact that I was doing street photography, I learned only later. I noticed that the pictures that I do not look very nice. When I wondered why they not looks good, I began to study the materials about photography on the Internet, I was looking at the works of other photographers. It turned out that when I walk through the streets, meet different interesting people, watch funny scenes from the live of others – and by the way I document my visual experience with the camera – this is street photography.

Phoblographer: What photographers influenced you? What about their work inspired you?


Igal: My first vivid impression – a film “War Photographer”. I was just shocked at what I saw. James Nachtwey – is, I think, a photographer who has predetermined from the beginning my journey in photography. Then I met Robert Frank’s work, as well as Garry Winogrand and Alex Webb. From Israeli photographers I want pick out Felix Lupa. His photographs have a very powerful message and an aesthetically beautiful form. I just like at them and compare his impressions of life in Israel with mine.

Phoblographer: What typically attracts you to a scene makes you want to photograph it? Is it the light? The people?


Igal: Very interesting question! I still do not know the answer. Usually, I do the frame before being aware of why I did it. I just follow some inner urge to raise the camera to my eye and to press the button. Recently, I began to try to convey through pictures my personal attitude to what is happening around me. My personal impressions of what I saw, and my emotions that I went there, where i made a frame. I think, I always need to find a balance between what comes to me in the streets – whether it’s light or the people – and between what I personally bring to the streets. A successful mix of internal and external make the photo interesting, at least for me.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use and how it helps you to get the images that you want to have in the end product image?


Igal: In the last year I have completely switched to rangefinders. Digital one it is a Fuji x100t and a film one – an old but beautiful Canonet QL19. I like their compactness and a huge, bright viewfinder. Viewfinder – the main thing why I love this cameras. It just gives me a wide way to see what is happening around me. Camera – this is just a tool. It must be simple and reliable. I don’t have something special that I can say about my gear. This is cameras that I have and I use them. That’s all.

Phoblographer: For you, what’s the end goal? Publishing a book? Being in a gallery?


Igal: Last year, one of my pictures was at the exhibition. It was organized by Felix Lupa, which I mentioned above. It was very interesting, there were many other authors and I saw a lot of interesting photos. The exhibition was visited by thousands people, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that street photography is so much interested to them. People are positive about what we do and it motivates to deepen my exploration of the world around me. I do not think that photography has the end goal. The journey is more important than the results.